Date: 24-26 September 2020
Conference venue: University of Graz
Organizers: Prof. Dr. Ursula Gärtner (Graz), Lukas Spielhofer (Graz)
Confirmed speakers: Gert-Jan van Dijk (Leiden), Andreas Fritsch (Berlin), Ursula Gärtner (Graz), Jeremy Lefkowitz (Swarthmore), Silvia Mattiacci (Siena), Caterina Mordeglia (Trento), Johannes Park (Göttingen), Chiara Renda (Naples), Hedwig Schmalzgruber (Potsdam), Lukas Spielhofer (Graz), Giovanni Zago (Florence)

The genre of ancient fable has long been neglected by scholars, with 20th-century research still focusing primarily on questions of textual transmission, the evolution of literary motifs, or reception history. The idea that fables were intended as a means of voicing their discontent by lower social classes has inclined many researchers to place emphasis on their sociocultural value. Over the last decades, however, there has also been a growing scholarly interest in the respective authors and their works. Some of these contributions adhere to the traditional biographical-interpretive approach, while others stress poetological aspects and demonstrate how the fables, in a unique and witty way, fit themselves into the literary discourse of their time.

It is the aim of this conference to bring together scholars who have, over the last years, opened up new approaches in this field, and to create an international network of ancient-fable scholarship.

Key questions:
1. Text and transmission
Research on ancient fable is often hampered by poor textual transmission. What is the latest state of research concerning new findings and new readings, both in individual cases and generally? In the case of many ancient fables, the circumstances of their historical transmission are still unclear. How have the extant ancient fable collections come down to us, what developments have they undergone in the process, and in what way does this depend upon the form of the collection (intentional/arbitrary/accidental)?
2. Contextualisation
The function of fables per se is the exemplification of statements in a given context. When they are collected and achieve the status of a literary genre in its own right, they lose their original explanatory function. What divergent but plausible contextualisations (pragmatic, sociological, literary, concerning intellectual and motif history, in the context of animal studies, etc.) and corresponding interpretations can be found?
3. Audience
What can we deduce from content and structure about the intended audience of the fables? How is the implied reader characterised and what does this tell us about possible contextualisations?
4. Poet, poeta, persona
Hardly anything is known today about the empirical, flesh-and-blood authors of ancient fables. How and when did their authorial representations emerge? Does the ‘Dichterinstanz’, the authorial character, express himself in the fables, and if so, how does this self-representation work? What is the relevance of poetological considerations?
5. Fables in the literary discourse of their time
Do subtexts and parallels allow us to attribute fables to a certain literary tradition? How do other ancient texts reflect on fables? Can we draw parallels between ancient fable and other literary genres and/or currents?
6. Reception
By whom and how were fables taken up in late antiquity, the Middle Ages and the modern period? What continuities and transformations can be observed?

There will be a time slot of 30 minutes for each paper (English or German), followed by a discussion. Selected articles may be published as a special volume.

All submissions must be written either in English or German and must include:
An abstract with a short bibliography (each abstract should be no more than 250 words, bibliography excluded).
A brief academic biography, which should mention the author’s name, surname, academic email, current affiliation and selected bibliography.

The deadline for submitting proposals is January 30, 2020. Acceptance of contributions will be notified by February 15, 2020.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding any aspect of the conference, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Prof. Dr. Ursula Gärtner, Institute of Classics, University of Graz
Email: [email protected]